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2020 presidential election could take cues from 1948

By William Lewis

When we look at the presidential race of 1948, we can see certain similarities to what took place in 2016 and what might take place in 2020. No one thought that in 2016 we would have 17 candidates running in the Republican primary, although it was assumed that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee of the Democratic Party.

Few people expected Donald Trump to win most of the battleground states in the general election and be elected president.

What we had in the Republican primary in 2016 was an open primary in which any candidate could enter if he or she met the minimum qualifications. As we look at 2020, the Democratic Party will have an open primary for president.

It is unlikely that Hillary Clinton will run a third time for president. What we may see is the Democratic Party following what occurred with the Republican Party in 2016. We could be seeing primary fights all over the country, especially in the battleground states.

It is not known at this time whether President Donald Trump will also face a primary, but the possibility exists.

Anyway our next choice of president will unleash a major battle in both parties, especially the Democratic Party, similar to what the Republican Party had in 2016.

In 1948 the Democratic Party was split into three parts after the convention. The three parts consisted of the regular Democratic Party, which nominated Harry Truman, the incumbent president.

Truman had succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt after Roosevelt had died in office. Truman had been the vice president and took over the presidency in 1945. The other two parts consisted of Strom Thurmond of the States Rights Party, who had been governor of South Carolina, and Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party, who had been a former vice president under Roosevelt.

The Republican Party strongly supported the candidacy of Gov. Thomas Dewey of New York.

Since the Democratic Party was split into three parts, it was considered by most that the Democratic Party was so divided that it could not possibly win the fall election. The polls seemed to back them up. Everywhere those who previewed the election results through the news media predicted a Dewey victory.

The re-election campaign gave Harry Truman a strong race, however, as he ran on helping union members gain better wages and more jobs. There were also the issues of civil rights and dealing with the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Truman had the advantage of being the incumbent president for almost four years. He waged a far more active campaign than Dewey did.

When the results were in, Truman had waged the biggest upset in American presidential history up to that point.

It was said at the time that people were so sure that Dewey was going to be elected, that those who favored him didn’t bother going to the polls to vote for him.

We are no doubt going to see some unusual politics in the 2020 presidential race. Presidential elections are far different than they were in earlier times. 1948 was the most unusual election until 2016, when Trump won the White House.

We will see how it develops by 2020. It is a picture of American democracy in action.

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